Owyhee 5th Graders Learn Life Lessons in McCall

Owyhee 5th Graders Learn Life Lessons in McCall
Posted on 05/30/2017
Two girls in front of the Camp Ida-Haven sign

By Ariel Schoenhuth

On the morning of May 17, Owyhee Elementary fifth graders excitedly lugged their bags onto a crowded bus for what would be two and a half days of jam-packed outdoor and science activities at McCall’s Camp Ida-Haven. They had a right to be excited.

“The 5th graders worked so hard to get to Camp Ida Haven this year,” said teacher Jennifer Whipple. “They raised over $7,500 with school-wide fundraising opportunities. There were times when they thought they would never make it, but they did. The looks on their faces when they were told they made it was priceless.”

“When I heard we raised enough money to go to Ida-Haven, I was so excited, I almost screamed,” said student Madison Ketterman, “and I am quiet!”

In addition to their fundraisers, students contributed to the trip by taking over all Camp Ida-Haven janitorial duties, including cleaning cabins, vacuuming floors, scrubbing toilets, bussing tables and washing dishes. Students learned a lot about responsibility and found a new appreciation for people in their lives who perform similar jobs.

“I am so grateful for our lunch ladies,” student Cassidy Dunn said. “At camp, I had to wash all the fifth-graders’ dishes. It was hard. I thought of the lunch ladies who have to cook and clean dishes for over 500 people and they are still so nice.”

While in McCall, students participated in various team-building and community strengthening activities and courses. They learned the importance of teamwork and cooperation; they even learned how to work without their thumbs. In the evenings they worked together to perform humorous skits.

“Half of my cabin-mates I did not know or get along with before the trip. I thought we would argue or they would tease me, because I didn’t know them. The whole trip we laughed, and I got to know them. They are awesome. Now we are good friends,” said Cassidy Dunn.

Students also were given the opportunity to connect with one of Idaho’s most cherished resources though science stations, outdoor activities and adventures. Many students enjoyed participating in archery lessons, creating various nature crafts, and learning about the importance of camouflage in their animal science lessons. Some students were even able to try s’mores for the first time. In one adventure, students took a two-mile hike and enjoyed the beauty of a waterfall. The sights, smells and breathtaking scenery made a lasting impression.

“I mean, everything was perfect. It was like living in a place where you can’t be harmed. You just feel so safe and calm,” explained student Greggor Bailey.

 A very popular activity was building wish boats. The boats were built using items only found on the ground; nothing was picked, broken or unnatural. The students created a wish for the world or their community, and launched their boats into the camp creek. Tradition has it that if a boat makes it all the way to Payette Lake, the wish bestowed upon that boat will come true. Students wished for things like an end to cancer, a cleaner community, an end to homelessness, an end to child-hunger, an end to bullying for all ages, including adults, and for Camp Ida Haven to stay open forever, so that other kids could enjoy the camp as much as they did.

So, even after all that hard work, how did the students feel about their experience? “It was all worth it!” said Jordan Blenker. “I never wanted to leave,” declared Pearl Stoops. “This trip was the best trip I will ever go on!” raved Alex Grover.

All in all, the trip was a great success. Students had a great time while learning a lot about themselves, others, science and the Idaho outdoors!

Students practice archery

Kids gather on stone steps at Camp Ida-Haven
Two girls in front of the Camp Ida-Haven sign.

Two boys work on a project about wildlife.
Smiling kids stand in a line in the snow.